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News Release
June 1, 2004

Unprecedented Federal & State Task Force
Nets More Than 5 Dozen Arrests

JUN 1--A state and federal task force led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) today announced 69 arrests, the result of an emphasis deployment in the White Center neighborhood of Seattle/ King County. For the first time, the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) joined with the Seattle Police and the King County Sheriff’s Office to concentrate resources in an area with growing problems of drug dealing and violence.

After a spike in drug and gang related violence in the area, the DEA-MET led task force went into operation in January 2004. Working in the evening hours, agents arrested drug dealers, armed felons, and dismantled a drug distribution network. Three months later 69 people face state or federal charges and serious prison time. Seven of those arrested face federal felony charges and, if convicted, some may face mandatory minimum sentences of as much as 15 years in prison.
“These arrests are just the first steps in federal, state and local efforts to reclaim the White Center neighborhood from drugs and violence,” said John McKay, U.S. Attorney for Western Washington. “Additional community resources from the Weed and Seed program as well as private funds from the Annie Casey Foundation will now be available to support community renewal projects such as drug treatment and prevention programs, after school programs, and economic development projects.”

McKay highlighted the co-operative spirit of all the agencies involved, working together to maximize efforts with no additional tax dollars. “This operation shows what can be done when different jurisdictions and levels of government focus their resources.” McKay said.

The DEA began its Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) program in 1995. Under the program, Police Chiefs and Sheriff’s can ask for DEA resources to combat violent drug trafficking organizations. In MET deployment areas, assaults have been reduced by 15 percent, homicides by 14 percent and robberies by 16 percent. Nationwide from October 1995 to April 2002 more than 14,000 offenders have been arrested and nearly $25 million in assets have been seized as a result of MET deployments.

In White Center members of the task force seized 2.5 kilos of cocaine, more than 100 grams of crack cocaine, 474 grams of heroin and quantities of marijuana.
Authorities shut down three marijuana grow operations and confiscated 3 handguns.
Three vehicles were confiscated as well as more than $36,000. The numbers of visible street dealers have been substantially reduced.

The White Center area is one of the most culturally diverse in the state with a significant number of immigrant families. The crime rate is high, and the perception of the crime rate is even higher. Strong, committed community groups are eager to work with law enforcement. White Center is the first area in the nation to have a program in place under the Drug Affected Neighborhood (DAN) 25 Cities program. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program has been instrumental co-ordinating resources and directing law enforcement efforts.

The deployment in White Center followed some outstanding cooperative efforts between Seattle Police and the King County Sheriff’s Office. Their work resulted in some 47 arrests. Those arrests, in addition to the arrests over the last four months, mean more than 100 drug offenders have been taken off the street in the White Center/Delridge neighborhoods.

The creation of these long lasting partnerships will allow for better cooperation and information sharing in the future. On June 19, 2004 from 10-11AM the White Center community will celebrate the partnerships that are leading the way toward community revitalization. Please join law enforcement and community groups at the White Center Farmers Market at SW 98th and 15th Ave SW for the community celebration.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, United States Attorney’s Office Public Affairs Officer at 206- 553-4110 or Thomas P. O’Brien, DEA Seattle Field Division PIO at 509-353-2906.

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